Tag Archives: Calvert Foundation

WSGS150

The Women of Wall Street Green

 

by Monika Mitchell

Despite the fact that women hold up half the sky, we continue to be under-represented in the financial markets. Having worked in the institutional debt markets for over a decade, I observed the percentage of women in senior management was in the single digits and remains that way. In the wake of the financial crisis, the few women that operated at higher levels were, more often than not, the first to go.

Women just aren’t welcome in the Old Boy’s Club. Perhaps this is simply a result of the resistance to change or perhaps because women themselves don’t want to be there. To be a woman in the competitive macho world of investment banking often means you have to check your femininity at the door. For women on the climb up to Wall Street prominence, if you want to play with the Big Boys, your best bet is to become one of them.

Yet a new world is emerging rapidly for women in finance, the world of impact entrepreneurship and investing: How to generate profits and make the world a better place. It is a world wide open for invention and perfectly suited to the feminine gender. Where else can women use their natural intelligence and problem solving skills and apply these to environmental and social issues for profit? The newness of clean tech and renewable energy yields an innovative market opportunity for women. Nowhere is that represented better than at this week’s Wall Street Green Summit in New York. Global Change Associates under the direction of Clean Tech investment guru Peter Fusaro presents fourteen women who are setting the trends in the green economy.

Clean tech expert Karin Berardo, a structured finance specialist, will talk about financing solar energy. Karin is the Chief Financial Officer and co-founder of CleanPath Ventures, a firm that finances renewable energy projects in the U.S. and around the globe. Leslie Durshinger, a former JPMorgan and Merrill Lynch executive, with 20 years of experience in derivative trading, investment advisory, algorithmic trading, risk management, and securities lending presents the new trends in carbon off-set markets. In 2006, she founded Terra Global Capital to “facilitate the market for land-based carbon offsets.”  Discussing sustainable commercial real estate and green building is Leanne Tobias, founder and managing principal of Malachite LLC, a LEED specialist and investment advisor. Nancy Tuor, executive director of CH2M HILL, reveals how to build effective sustainable leadership in today’s economy. Asset manager Cheri Warren, VP of National Grid, details the nuts and bolts of executing smart grid initiatives. These are just a few of the amazing and innovative women at the Summit.

One of the highlights of the Summit occurs on Day Two with a Women’s Mentorship Luncheon presented by social entrepreneur extraordinaire, Diana Ayton-Schenker. The purpose of the luncheon is to develop a mentorship network supporting women’s economic and social impact in the world.  As founder of Fast Forward Fund and Global Momenta, Diana focuses on “accountability and impact through strategic philanthropy, corporate social responsibility and private-nonprofit partnerships.” Fast Forward was recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative University as an “outstanding commitment” of “youth investing in youth for global change.” In addition to her advisory roles, Diana teaches social entrepreneurship at The New School and corporate social responsibility at Bard College. She is also advising the recently launched WINWin Initiative, a project of the Calvert Foundation of Women Investing in Women.

Wall Green Summit promises to be a comprehensive two-day conference with dozens of important sessions presented by women and men on: Renewable Energy Finance, Carbon Trading, Green Hedge Fund Strategy and New Green Investment Opportunities. Not to leave the guys out, other participants include Mission-Markets Founder Michael Van Patton, representatives from Pepsico, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, top green hedge funds and Wall Street green maverick, Fusaro himself.

The green economy is growing rapidly. The 21st century promises to be the era of making money through improving the world around us. Happily, women will be front and center in that global economic movement.

Leadership: It’s a Female Thing

by Monika Mitchell

Last week, I found myself on Manhattan’s far west side in an exquisitely decorated loft owned by Winds of Change philanthropist Shamaya Gilo. Sixty powerhouse women were gathered together for wine and cheese and to strategize how to support women’s leadership through cold-hard cash. The loft was filled with talented and accomplished women of wealth – women who were personally wealthy or those who pulled the strings at some of New York’s top financial institutions. Present in the room were wealth managers, venture capitalists, fixed income and equity traders, professional investors, lawyers, quants, mutual fund managers, bankers, heads of family foundations, philanthropists and market makers of all kinds and a couple of sympathetic males thrown into the mix. We had one thing in common: the drive and ambition to push more capable and accomplished women into the ring.

What is the “Ring?” It is the corporate boardroom, the C-Suite at Fortune 1000 companies and top levels of financial institutions. The ring includes politics, finance, business and generally anywhere that women have been traditionally marginalized, which let’s face it, is everywhere that matters aside from the home front. The question we are asking is why are women deliberately kept out of key roles in world affairs and what can we do to change that?

The New York event of high-powered women, organized by Criterion Ventures under the direction of the indefatigable Jackie VanderBrug, encouraged women to invest in each other. Speaking to the crowd of well-heeled power women were Nada Jain (Golden Seeds), CJ Juhasz (ISIS Fund/Women’s World Banking), Jo-Ann Tan (Acumen Fund),  Georgie Benardete (Multicultural Capital), Sally Boulter and Noelle St. Clair of Calvert Foundation who detailed each organization’s mission to empower women. The event marked a shift in action – we are tired of waiting for men to open the door for us. Ladies and gentlemen…in the 21st century, we are opening the doors for ourselves.

What makes the world go around is money. The Criterion Ventures model aims to put money behind women-centric ventures and entrepreneurs. (Women investing in Women.) We have seen how money in the wrong hands, evidenced by the global economic crisis, has thrown the scales of power completely out of whack and left behind whole portions of the population on both sides of the Atlantic. Women, it may come as no surprise, have fared worse than average. The poor are getting poorer and the majority of poor in the U.S. and around the globe are women. They are the last to get hired and earn substantially less than their male counterparts.

I am not going to pretend that I don’t think women should have seats of power. I am not going to play nice and say it doesn’t matter. I am not going to quietly and apathetically marginalize my own gender by politely acknowledging that men are wonderful and capable of handling world affairs without us. Yes, many men are wonderful and ladies what would we do without them? But what we would do with them as co-creators of the world is the real issue.

The first and critical question is: What would men do without women?

I’ll start by answering that from my home turf in the U.S.

In the last twelve years since the end of the 20th century and the birth of the new, America has started two wars that have cost millions of people their lives and changed the world order permanently. We have given birth to a devastating global financial crisis that has plunged millions of innocents into starvation, joblessness and homelessness. The wars and the economic collapse have resulted in international chaos and unrest and launched movements of desperation like the 99 and 1%. All of these disastrous events were done largely by men with little help or input of women. Incorporating women into top leadership positions would bring an important element of collaboration and cooperation into the picture. Women are often by necessity, if not nature, geared to resolving conflicts rather than creating them. Yet women continue to be disenfranchised from key economic, civic, and political decisions.

So enough…Enough of violent and aggressive response, whether it is the violence of economic greed or the guns of bloody wars. It is time for western civilization to enter the enlightened age. Non-violent women and men are the key to a more sustainable world in the new millennium.

Why are women key to changing the world for the better? Because very simply: we are life-givers, not life-destroyers. It is in our DNA to create and nurture life, not desecrate it. Yet somehow, despite the fact that we carry, create and protect life, women are raped, murdered, mutilated, marginalized and humiliated every second of every day somewhere in our world. The issue becomes which kind of world do we want to carry forward – one that destroys life or one that creates it? If the choice is the latter, then the inclusion of women is essential.

In my work at the United Nations over the past several years, I had the honor and privilege of knowing one of the great men in this world and a true champion of women: Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury. As President of the Security Council in 2000, the Ambassador introduced Resolution 1325 which endorsed urgently needed economic and educational opportunities for women. The resolution was the result of his experience as a diplomatic leader in Bangladesh where women were routinely violated physically and materially. His work has greatly advanced the plight of rural women around the globe.

Yet our work in this decade necessitates more than helping women. In very direct ways, the world desperately needs women to help it. We need every bit of TLC for people and planet we can muster. For most women, this is second nature. Strength is no longer measured in an enlightened world by brute force. True courage can be seen in the stoic stamina, tolerance, patience and big-picture vision of women and men.

Something Ambassador Chowdhury once said stuck in my mind. He explained that at UN mediations to resolve global conflicts, the men at the table invariably wanted to know, “What’s in it for me?” They would ask how the solution would affect them personally in power and privilege before giving their consent. Women, according to the Ambassador, were more concerned with what kind of world they were leaving for their children and generations to come.

The stark difference in thinking jolted me and I realized this was true. Women more often than not think in terms of creation and cooperation, not domination and aggression. These qualities, however, are a double-edged sword. In one way, this is precisely the reason we have been held back. In many ways, we have held ourselves back. We have not fought tough enough or hard enough to say: This is our world too; no one had the right to destroy it for me or my children.

In this century of women, we – the feminine gender – and the men who see us as friend not foe, need to pool our resources, money, votes and support and put these ideals behind women in leadership roles. Only with the inclusion of women can we build a more sustainable world based on mutual cooperation and constructive solutions.

Hillary Clinton said of empowering women, “It’s not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.” Jackie VanderBrug explains why: “Gender diversity [in companies, on corporate boards and in leadership roles] works for all of us. It allows you to see things that you would not otherwise see.”

The time to step up, step out and make our voices heard is now. Not a moment should be lost, because without  the feminine sense of balance and wisdom women naturally bring to problem solving, the world is a sad and sorry place. Our only hope for a better future lies in the power, appreciation and inclusion of women.